Students who have had the amazing opportunity to enroll in analog film classes, offered in Saddleback College’s Special Annex building since 1980, were upset to hear that after this semester they will no longer have the option to do so. Our wet lab, known for its great vibe, cleanliness, and wonderful lab technicians is disappearing from campus this summer.
The darkroom was originally supposed to move from its temporary position to a permanent one, but after looking at the cost of designing and building a new darkroom, the school decided it wasn’t worth it; figuring that eventually students may not be as interested in it, they won’t be building a new wet lab.
The worst part about this is that it just shows how dependent people are on a calculator. Students are losing a great deal. The only thing people are paying attention to is the cost, not what’s best for Saddleback students. In photography if you learn digital first, more and more people get dependent on Photoshop. But those students who learn the basics first, who go through the process of developing their film and watching the process of how a picture comes to life, are going to be able to appreciate photography and grow into a much better photographer. Plus, students who don’t try analog film first won’t get to experience the joy of using a Holga or any other toy camera. They also won’t be able to see the incredible definition of medium format film.
People seem to think that digital photography is less expensive, when in reality it’s less cost-efficient for students.
The difference between digital photography and film photography is simple. When you use film, a physical property of the film changes when exposed to light. When you use a digital camera, nothing physical changes. It’s a lot like using a copy machine you use in offices at work. Part of what makes film great is the unpredictability.
Photography used to be about going through the process of developing an image. Now it’s about how fast and easily you can get the image. Because of this, we make a lot more images than we need to or are ready to absorb.
Right now digital technology cannot produce a picture quite as rich as film. Yes, digital is easier for consumers to take a snap shot of their kids. But in the professional world, film is still a big deal. It’s similar to how 8-track lived on for years in the radio and recording industry after consumers were done with it. Film will continue to be around for a very long time, just in a more niche environment, even after Saddleback takes away the wet lab.